Gig Review: Kris Barras Band / Florence Black / Tom Killner – The Leadmill, Sheffield (22nd March 2022)

Tom Kilner Band (c) Jack Barker

Having seen Kris Barras Band supporting Black Stone Cherry in September 2021, I have to admit I was excited for tonight’s show. With the number of Black Stone Cherry t-shirts in the crowd, I don’t think I was the only one who was introduced and found a liking for Kris Barras Band at one of last year’s shows.

With doors opening at 7:30 and Tom Killner promptly taking the stage at 7:45, the venue was still fairly empty but it didn’t stop the band from coming out full of energy. Mixing multiple genres of country, blues and southern rock and roll, the Tom Killner Band showed the range in their musical talent. During “On the Other Side”, you could see Killner’s passion for the music with a large smile on his face while showcasing a relaxed and skilled playing style.

With a quick joke about how they wouldn’t mind being paid in petrol, they began their final song “Don’t Waste My Time”. The ever-growing crowd’s cheers had grown louder between each song of the set showing their appreciation for the local first act of the night.

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Florence Black (c) Jack Barker

With a few visible Florence Black t-shirts, it was clear that there were some fans in the crowd. As soon as the band took the stage, lead vocalist and guitarist Tristan Thomas addressed the crowd with, “How we doing tonight Sheffield?!”. Throughout the set it seemed that the band had drawn inspirations from the likes of Nickelback and Avenged Sevenfold with elements of the two bands’ styles especially evident in the track “Birds on a Chain”.

The crowd was quite still throughout the set, however it was evident that their attention was definitely on the band and their music rather than chatting amongst themselves. There was, though,  one kid sitting on someone’s shoulders looking like they were having the time of their life, air drumming along throughout the set.

Throughout the entire set, drummer Perry Davies was giving it his all with some very impressive head banging. Having seen social media posts from the tour so far, it was no surprise as they ended the set with the trio posing for a photo with the crowd.

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Loud cheers erupted when Kris Barras Band took to the stage after a quick change around. Opening with arguably one of their biggest hits, “Hail Mary”, they instantly had everyone singing along and heads were nodding. It was obvious from the energy they put into this first song that they were here to impress. Barras addressed the crowd saying, “We’ve got a new album out which is collectively our favourite” before playing “These Voices” from said album Death Valley paradise, before jumping straight into another crowd favourite for an older album “Ignite (Light It Up)”.

Kris Barras Band (c) Jack Barker

Truer words have never been spoken when Barras said, “We’ve had a shit couple of years, but it feels so good for live music to be back!”. “Wake me When It’s Over” written about a week before they went into the studio to record the album, about the pandemic, gave me goosebumps reliving the emotions of lockdown.

Taking a break from the heavier tracks, Barras and guitarist Josiah J. Manning took a seat with acoustic guitars for a couple of songs which is something new for the band to bring to live shows. Barras reminded the crowd during “Propane” that “Just because it’s acoustic, that doesn’t mean you can’t rock out!” earning a round of laughter from the audience. Barras giving credit to Manning who, with one shoe on and one shoe off, was simultaneously providing backing vocals while playing guitar and using various pedals to produce the drum beat and bass tones. Barras also joked that they did once attempt to share the workload, but that didn’t end well.

An incredible cover of “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd ended the acoustic set. With Kelpie Mckenzie (Bass) and Billy Hammett (drums) re-joining the stage, Barras joked that “It’s fucking hot up here! My ear holes are sweating!” before a very heartwarming speech about how his dad was his introduction and inspiration to the world of music. “Watching Over Me”, the first song Barras wrote, is a tribute to his dad. Everyone’s lights were in the air throughout the entire song.

The last two songs of the main set were both from their new album, starting with their brand new single “Who Needs Enemies”, followed by “My Parade” these were two of the more anthemic tracks and with the atmosphere the band could have called it an evening there.

As soon as the Kris Barras Band left the stage, there was chants of “One more song!” and the crowd were not disappointed when they bounced back onto stage to perform “Lovers or Losers”, ending with a full band bow. I always find it interesting seeing a band at their own headline show after seeing them as a support for the first time, and Kris Barras Band certainly didn’t disappoint.

All three bands of the night clearly have a passion for music, playing songs with long instrumental sections and bearing beaming smiles. Everyone enjoying the fact that it is no longer frowned upon to stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow music lovers, and simply enjoy the spectacle.

Photos by Jack Barker Photography

Kris Barras Band: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | spotify | youtube

Florence Black: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | spotify | youtube

Tom Killner: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | spotify | youtube

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